Aug. 22, 2016
Last summer, the Palestinian Authority president made serial threats to resign, to dismantle the PA, to end security cooperation with the IDF, to sue Israel in the International Criminal Court, and to tear up the Oslo Accords. He has since backed down from all of them and even seems to be trying to end the “knife intifada,” which his own party played a large role in instigating. Yoni Ben Menachem examines his motivations:
[T]he main consideration guiding eighty-one-year-old Abbas is to remain in power while seeking an appropriate successor, one who will allow him to retire honorably and will ensure the well-being of his family and his two sons’ economic interests.
Abbas is not looking for diplomatic adventures. He is sticking with his strategy of internationalizing the conflict; hence, he supports the French [peace] initiative. That initiative could lead to an international conference by the end of the year while entailing a minimum of risk to Abbas’ rule. . . .
Particularly worrisome to him is the [possibility now being considered by the Israeli Defense Ministry] of opening a dialogue with Palestinian academics and businesspeople. Abbas sees this as going over his head to find a new Palestinian address, thereby undermining his legitimacy as leader of the Palestinian people. . . .
As Abbas sees it, [this] new plan poses a threat to his continued rule. . . . According to senior Fatah officials, from now on he will take great care not to give the Israeli defense establishment pretexts to take measures to undermine senior PA senior officials as well as Abbas himself, such as invalidating their official VIP travel documents, lifting the easier conditions at the border crossings, and so on.